ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – The Board of Regents granted permission to operate for Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) to offer its D.O. program in Osteopathic Medicine in Elmira.
This permission to operate will be effective until July 16, 2020. Once the Department receives notification of COCA final approval and evidence that the D.O. program continues to meet program registration standards, it will be extended until July 16, 2025.
On July 2, LECOM submitted an application to seek the consent of the Board of Regents to offer its D.O. program in Elmira, New York. The College is a private, nonprofit institution under the LECOM Health System.
Its main campus is in Erie, Pennsylvania. The College is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The D.O. program in Osteopathic Medicine was established in 1993 at the main campus.
The program is accredited by the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA). Currently, the D.O. program is offered at the following additional locations: Bradenton, Florida, and Greensburg, Pennsylvania (also known as LECOM at Seton Hill).
The D.O. program is designed to prepare physicians who practice within the osteopathic concept and to develop primary care physicians who practice in the osteopathic tradition. The program consists of 357.5 credits (117.5 pre-clinical credits and 240 clinical credits) and can be completed in four years. The first two-years of preclinical study begins with a 12-week course in Gross Anatomy.
Following this, students study the basic medical sciences almost exclusively in the problem-based learning (PBL) format with groups of 8-9 students per faculty facilitator. After completing the first two years and passing the COMLEX-USA Level 1 examination, students begin the two-year clinical phase including the core rotations and then medical and surgical electives. The core rotations will take place in a variety of hospitals in the rural areas and underserved hospitals in upstate New York, including Arnot Ogden Medical Center, Elmira; Eastern Niagara Hospital, Lockport; United Memorial Hospital, Batavia; Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Binghamton; Noyes Hospital, Danville; St. James Mercy Hospital, Hornell; Brooks Memorial Hospital, Dunkirk; and Wyoming Community Health Center, Warsaw.
To gain admission, students must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university by the time of enrollment. Applicants from affiliated institutions will have completed three years of an undergraduate degree. In addition, applicants must have completed the pre-requisite courses in the following subject areas: biology, inorganic chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, English, and behavioral sciences.
The LECOM at Elmira student body will primarily consist of graduates from programs in biological sciences, physical sciences, or social sciences. The student population served by LECOM at Elmira will be nationwide and selected on an equal opportunity basis. Recruitment will concentrate on applicants from surrounding regions of New York and northern Pennsylvania, who will be more likely to practice in their home area after training.
The projected enrollment at Elmira is 120 new students per year for the first five years. LECOM is currently constructing a state-of-the-art building on the campus of Elmira College. This dedicated building will house all necessary classrooms and lab space, including 15 PBL discussion rooms, as well as faculty and staff offices.
Two full-sized lecture halls in the medical school building will accommodate 150 students each and be fully equipped with high-definition video conferencing cameras and monitors for connectivity between the Elmira and Erie campuses when needed. The Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP) Lab will be equipped with 35 pneumatic treatment tables, rolling adjustable stools, and cameras and video monitors. The collaborative agreement 3 between LECOM and Elmira College gives students full access to all the various educational resources and recreational amenities already in existence at Elmira College.
A physical library will be housed in the new building. In addition, students can use the electronic resources available through the LECOM-Erie library. LECOM at Elmira will hire 16 new full-time and 9 new part-time faculty members. Faculty will be based at the Elmira site to teach in laboratories and serve as PBL facilitators, along with serving as academic advisors to the students and to participate in curricular and administrative functions of LECOM. Faculty members will either be licensed physicians (D.O. or M.D.) with teaching expertise, or individuals with doctoral degrees in relevant scientific and/or educational disciplines. According to the New York Physician Supply and Demand through 2030 by Center for Health Workforce Studies, School of Public Health, University at Albany New York, there was an overall growth statewide in physician supply.
However, the Southern Tier region experienced physician growth of less than three percent per 100,000 population, a pace far too slow to keep up with the demand of an aging population with increasing incidence of chronic disease and the ability of the newly insured to access care. The Western New York region – including Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties – experienced a one percent decline in primary care physicians.
According to the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS), education and retention of physicians have been challenging for many reasons such as an aging primary care workforce, fewer medical residents choosing primary care, medical school debt, and lack of interest in practicing in rural/underserved areas of the state. The proposed LECOM at Elmira D.O. program is designed as a solution to the health care supply and demand imbalance in New York. Students will be placed in clinical clerkships sites in the rural/underserved areas.
These sites and the nearby teaching hospitals have residency training slots available for the graduates. Studies have shown that the location of clinical training is to some extent a predictor of where physicians choose to practice. Offering the D.O. program in Elmira is intended to address physician shortages in the Southern Tier Region and Western Region of New York.